Last night the NSW Labor Government rejected a ban on engineered stone in a motion put forward by Abigail on behalf of the Greens.
The motion, proposed by Greens MP Abigail Boyd, called upon the Government to uphold the recommendations of unions, peak health organisations and workers to place an outright ban on engineered stone. The Labor Government, however, deleted the provision in favour of supporting a ‘nationally uniform ban on manufactured stone with silica concentrations above 40 per cent.’
This amendment, rejecting a ban, is instead the minimum proposed option in the current national review. Every health organisation, as well as the CFMEU and a number of key unions have advocated against minimum regulation and pushed for an outright ban.
During the debate on the motion the Treasurer referred to powerful forces organising on the issue to stop reform. In response to questioning from Abigail Boyd, the Treasurer elaborated on the statement during question time.
Quotes attributable to Abigail Boyd, Greens NSW MP and spokesperson for Workplace Health and Safety:
“There is no safe level of silica exposure. Victoria has regulated engineered stone to silica concentrations below 40 per cent, and still workers are being exposed to dangerous levels of silica dust and contracting silicosis.
“Failure to act decisively on this issue is a betrayal. Workers are being sold out and condemned to a death sentence because this government is more attentive to the wishes of big business than the health and safety of construction and manufacturing workers in this state.
“The explosion of silicosis cases in our workforce is a tragedy, and is made all the more tragic by how preventable it is.
“Costings produced by the former NSW Government reveal that it would cost nothing, not one dollar to save thousands of lives by banning engineered stone.
“We are witnessing the asbestos of the 2020s and like the Government did with asbestos, they have chosen to sit on their hands as workers are dying across the state.
“Just as with asbestos, a total ban is the only tenable response and history will not judge kindly the legacy of cowardly governments failing to respond, and failing to protect life when a clear and simple solution was available,” Abigail said.